Aquinas and Aristotle in Portrait of the Artist

I have decided to write my paper on Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The basic goal of my paper is to dig into Stephen’s aesthetic theory laid out in chapter 5 and explore the ways in which it either remains faithful or diverges from the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, the two philosophers whom Stephen cites as sources for his theory. In particular, I want to address the central component of Stephen’s theory: a “stasis of esthetic pleasure” in which the individual becomes free from desire, arriving at an ecstatic, “luminous” silence. After exploring the philosophical roots of Stephen’s theory, I’ll turn my attention to the bird-girl epiphany in chapter 4 and examine how Stephen experiences the processes he articulates in his theory–particularly this “stasis”–in his encounter with her.

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